Every March Valencia gets ready to welcome the spring and the streets fill up with the hustle and bustle of Las Fallas festival. From March 15th to 19th (the feast of Saint Joseph, day of the father in the whole country), Valencia is given over to a carnival of bonfires, fiesta, fireworks and a healthy dose of satire known as Las Fallas, the fires.
Displayed on every corner all over the city are colourful giant figures often 20 feet tall or more known as fallas. The theme of the fallas can be based on a political figure, or a soap star, or more exotic creatures from the movies, TV, sports idols, or simply imagination. Some of them are crazy – others playful and charming – all are larger than life and up for the public to enjoy and judge!
Some of the highlights that take place over Las Fallas:
Each day of Las Fallas begins at 8:00 am with La Despertà (the wake-up call). Brass bands begin to march down every street playing lively music. Close behind them are the fallers, throwing large firecrackers in the street as they go.
From 1st to 19th March, every day at 2pm in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the city vibrates to the sound of the traditional mascletà, a display of gunpowder explosions that beats out a unique sound. Afterward, the city’s terraces and streets fill up as people go to enjoy a typical aperitif and some traditional Valencian food in the sun.
L’Ofrena de Flors
A beautiful ceremony which takes place on March 17 and 18, that honours Valencia’s patron Virgin. Thousands of falleras and falleros arrive at the city from every corner of the Comunitat (Valencia State) and take the streets wearing traditional costumes and dancing to their neighbourhood or village bands as they find their way to the Plaza de la Virgen to offer bouquets to the giant image of the Virgin.
Els Castells and La Nit del Foc
On the nights of the 15, 16, 17, and 18 there are firework displays in the old riverbed in València. Each night is progressively grander and the last is called La Nit del Foc (the Night of Fire).
On the final night of Las Fallas, around midnight on March 19th these fallas are burnt as huge bonfires. This is known as La Cremà (the burning), the climax of the whole event and the reason why the constructions are called fallas (torches). Traditionally, the falla in the Plaza del Ayuntamientot is burned last.
There is also a children’s falla (smaller and without satirical themes), which is held a few metres away from the main one. This is burnt first, at 10:00 pm. The main neighbourhood fallas are burnt closer to midnight; the burning of the fallas in the city centre often starts later.
Away from the fallas, people frolic in the streets, throw fireworks and the whole city pretty much resembles an open-air dance party. There are many stalls selling trinkets and snacks such as the typical fried porres, churros and bunyols, as well as roasted chestnuts.